UPDATE: 06/13/2015: HR 842 did not pass, but a similar bill, HR 2311, is currently in the House of Representatives for 2015-2016. Please click on the HR 2311 sub-category on the right sidebar of this blog to see the relevant posts.
According to THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, and IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance, as of mid-May 2013, Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) has signed on as a co-sponsor to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2013.
Representative Welch is serving his fourth term as a member of the House of Representatives. He is the single, at-large representative in the House for the entire state of Vermont. According to Representative Welch’s official House website, he is a member of several health-related caucuses within Congress, and. has a record of supporting many pieces of legislation on health or veterans’ issues. As previously discussed on this blog on August 12, 2011 and August 25, 2011, military service members and veterans are at disproportionately high risk for functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, which are already very common in the general population. Representative Welch was also the initial co-sponsor of H. Res 1309 for IBS awareness and research in the 111th Congress in 2010 and the previous version of the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act, HR 2239 in the 112th Congress in 2011-2012.
If you are a constituent of Representative Welch, please take a few minutes to write or call with your thanks for his consistent and continuing support of HR 842 and the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders community.
In officially supporting HR 842, Representative Welch joins the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL-1), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-5), Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3), and Representative Susan Davis (D-CA-53). U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Welch’s colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.
IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance’s upcoming annual Congressional Call-In Day is an excellent opportunity for constituents of current supporters to express their appreciation to their legislators, as well as forU.S. citizens whose Representatives are not yet co-sponsors to advocate for their support. This year’s Call-In Day is scheduled for this coming Wednesday, June 5, 2013. On that day IFFGD/DHA and other IBS sites, including IBS Impact, strongly encourage all U.S. citizens with all functional gastrointestinal or motility disorders (for example, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, gastroparesis, chronic idiopathic psuedo-obstruction, Hirschsprung’s disease, functional (recurrent) abdominal pain, cyclic vomiting syndrome, functional dyspepsia and many others, which collectively affect at least 25% of the population), concerned family members, friends, co-workers or classmates, health and human service professionals who work with people with functional GI or motility disorders, to call their Representatives about HR 842 on that date. A strong, unified presence by many voices on the same day will make an impression that will pave the way for the IFFGD/DHA’s delegation of self-advocates with functional GI or motility disorders and functional GI professionals who will travel to Washington, DC to advocate in person later this month on IFFGD/DHA Advocacy Day 2013.
If you know the member of the federal House of Representatives who represents you, the direct telephone number for his or her Washington, DC office can usually be found on his or her official website, which can be located by an Internet search of his or her name. Keep in mind that your Representative may be different from before because of the 2012 elections, district boundaries that may have been re-drawn, or if you have moved. If you are not sure who is your Representative, you can look up this information at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121.
During business hours Eastern time on June 5, call your Representative’s office. Identify yourself as a constituent and give your name and the town or city in which you reside and ask to speak to the staff member who deals with health issues. You may be asked for your street address or phone number. This is to confirm that you do live in the Representative’s district and/or to allow the office to contact you to follow up. If you are nervous, in advance of calling, write down notes for yourself or a short presentation to read. You do not have to be an excellent speaker, just a person that the legislator and his or her staff will see as a real person with real needs. Be polite, keep the conversation on topic and limited to a few minutes, and thank the staff person for his or her time. Ask for the Representative to support HR 842 (or express your thanks for if he or she has already signed on).
Briefly explain your personal interest and/or experience with functional GI or motility disorders (for example, have had/family member has had irritable bowel syndrome for X years and has had difficulty finding appropriate treatment) and/or why functional GI and motility research and education provided for in HR 842 are important in general such as briefly what a functional GI or motility disorder or your specific one of interest, like IBS, is, how many people it affects, usually affects both genders, all ages, all ethnic groups that IBS/functional GI disorders are usually chronic. often misdiagnosed or mistreated and effective treatments, providers and local community services are limited. Thank the staff member again before ending your call. If the staff member who deals with health issues is not available, leave a brief message with the above details on voice mail or with the staff member who answers the phone. It is rare for such advocacy calls to result in an immediate commitment to a particular bill, but one purpose of Call-In Day is to create awareness of the needs that affect large numbers of people and momentum for increasing Congressional support.
For more information on HR 842 and advocacy strategies, including links to the bill see the previous post from March 2, 2013 or click on the HR 842 category in the right sidebar of this blog to see all posts on this topic. Click the following link for DHA’s page on Call In Day 2013.
IBS Impact urges all U.S. citizen readers of this blog to participate in the important and easy advocacy effort and to spread the word among your supportive relatives, friends and functional GI and motility disorder groups. The progress of HR 842 is in our hands.
Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for further updates on HR 842 as they occur. Links to the social media sites can be found on the right sidebar of the blog.